Pai was one of the best vacations Shawn and I ever had. It’s funny to call it a "vacation" when our real life is one giant vacation. We were lucky to visit Pai for the second time. This time we were ablt to spend a week because of our break from school.
Thursday night was our first night and we stayed at the Pai Circus Hostel, which I’ve wanted to stay at for years. I’ve seen so many amazing videos about fire hooping and circus performances and I finally wanted to learn how. We were first placed in a 12 bedroom dorm, which was very scary because the bunk beds were so high and the bamboo was wobbly. For only 50 baht ($1.50) extra a night we could have our own bungalow. I made the executive decision and told Shawn that I would prefer a night's sleep over crashing off a broken bunkbed.
Our private bungalow was okay, just a fan and a bed, the traditional Thai style. I woke up early the next morning for the free yoga class I was promised at arrival. However, there wasn’t a yoga teacher to be found. There were six of us ready with our yoga mats, but there was not a teacher.
I decided to wander off on my own and do yoga by myself because I woke up so early anyway. Before I knew it there were eight people surrounding me. I taught my first yoga class! Who knew I would be the yoga teacher at the Pai Circus Hostel.
It was fun to be a fake yoga teacher for the day, but The Circus hostel was overall a disappointment. There weren’t any circus teachers or fire performances. Apparently their circus teacher left the day before we got there. I was disappointed that I didn’t get to fire hoop. The place had a nice vibe and a beautiful infinity pool and view, but it was certainly overrated.
The next day, we met up with Yodi, who is a wonderful Thai man that I met the last time we were in Pai. He just opened a bar called Pai Reggae House Bar and we were excited to finally see it. That bar became our every day meeting spot and virtually our living room. We formed a fabulous crew to spend the rest of our week with. We met this awesome Dutch couple, Roy and Fleur and a lovely woman named Caro and Kay who became our partners in crime for the weekend.
On Saturday night, we went to the Pai Hot Springs Resort. For 100 THB ($3) per person you have access to hot springs and a pool with a breathtaking view. After that, we went back to the Pai Reggae House and drank Kombucha, which is fermented tea that everyone goes crazy for here. I am a big fan, it tastes like delicious juice with carbonation.
On Sunday, we went to the two main water falls with them. We went to Mor Paeng Waterfall, better known as Slide Waterfall, which gets its name from the way the rocks form into a slide. Afterwards, we went to Pam Bok Waterfall. These waterfalls are convenient because you can motorbike right up to them. You don't have to spend a full day hiking to reach them, which is a bonus when you want to see multiple in a day.
The next day we finally left the circus hostel and arrived at Pai Zen River Jam, the hostel our friend Cam owns. Right now it’s number on Booking.com! They made major improvements and it is exactly the vibe that Cam strived for.
As a hostel one night we cooked a dinner and made margaritas. Shawn set up the bonfire as he always does. It's the perfect relaxing spot. The hostel attracts amazing people that we know we are going to meet every time we visit. We're very lucky to have met Cam once we first arrived in Chiang Mai. He is such a generous person and we love watching his hostel flourish into the best spot in Pai!
Our last excursion before returning to Chiang Mai was an elephant sanctuary called Nature Conserve Forest that another friend we met owns. It was such a special experience because we knew that the sanctuary was truly ethical. They rescued the two elephants from a riding camp in Chiang Mai. They said the elephants were in total shock once they had all the land to themselves. They could walk around and eat anything they wanted. They were so accustomed to being chained and underfed that they stayed in one spot on the field for days. They slowy started exploring and realizing they could eat as much as they wanted. The owner described their first days as them eating so much, going to the bathroom and then making moaning noises because they were so full. So happy the elephants have a home!
This was a unique experience because the sanctuary is not very touristy. There were only about 15 people with us. We were able to have plenty of alone time with the elephants in the river. We bathed them in the river, which is by far my favorite hobby in Thailand. The sanctuary is also donation based. They recommend 500 THB per person ($15), which is a deal to be ths up close and personal with the elephants in the most ethical way!
Pai is such an incredible place and I recommend it to everyone who can make it to the North of Thailand. It is only a three hour ride away by motorbike or van for 150 baht ($3.50). We are so lucky that it is this close to us, that we are going again this weekend! We are certainly not taking anything for granted. How can we resist when we have this magical city in the mountains at our fingertips.